Passing on QB early is risky business
May 7, 2014 at 7:36p ET
My two cents for the Cleveland Browns when it comes to the 2014 NFL Draft could be dropped off at the front desk at 76 Lou Groza Blvd. the same as yours, and your co-worker's, and Joe in Warrensville's and Keith in Youngstown's.
The Browns have a charitable foundation that does all sorts of good deeds and would gladly accept each of the pennies we would offer.
Any actual input probably wouldn't make it up the stairs to Ray Farmer, Mike Pettine and the others in on the impending decisions.
I'm offering mine anyway, and in a less than shocking development it involves quarterbacks.
Here goes: If you want one -- and you should want one -- please be sure you're drafting the one you absolutely want. It's time to get The Guy, treat him like The Guy, scheme, coach and build around The Guy and eventually give him the keys to the operation.
It's time to trust in That Guy -- and the guys who are deciding on That Guy to have made the right call. They're getting paid very handsomely for the time they've spent locked in the draft room and on the draft trail, and though being at No. 4 leaves them a little at the mercy of the selections in front of them, they should know which quarterback they want.
It's been 85 days since Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi were fired, it's been 157 days since Brandon Weeden's last interception and it's been 54 weeks since last year's draft, after which it was pretty clear that the Browns would be very much be in the quarterback business in this year's draft. That's plenty of time for this group to have studied, evaluated (Farmer has been in College Station at least twice since last September) discussed and formulated a plan for this draft. The Browns have known since late December they'd be picking fourth and the pool of quarterbacks has pretty much been known for longer, official paperwork be damned.
I'm not saying the Browns have to pick a quarterback at No. 4, but in this draft it seems all will be available. Also, I'm coming very close to saying the Browns have to pick a quarterback early, and until I see a trade proposal I have to say at No. 4.
If there's absolutely a better option at No. 4 -- understanding that a tackle or a wide receiver would have to not simply be good but exceptional to be the best fit for this Browns team with that pick -- then those guys in that room have to be trusted to have made that decision just as firmly and resolutely. The last guys in charge bailed on Trent Richardson and turned trading him into a first-round pick, valuable ammo for another move or a pretty prime spot in what seems like a very deep draft.
The quarterback thing, however, can't be left to chance.
Maybe liking Teddy Bridgewater or maybe liking Derek Carr or being willing to dance with Johnny Manziel but not necessarily take him home to Mama was OK in February or March, but it can't be now. More than that, sitting and waiting for 26 leaves a whole bunch to chance.
There are too many teams between pick Nos. 4 and 26 that might want a quarterback. There are too many teams in the late teens and early 20s that might be willing to move back for some eager team -- maybe the Browns and maybe not; the point is, there's too much risk involved. Too, and this isn't to indict or claim to know anything about what's gone in that room that Farmer and Pettine presumably sit in front of, there are other teams with staffs who have been through a bunch of these together. That might or might not count once the first wave of unpredictability hits Thursday night, but I'd count on the veteran staff to most efficiently work the trade lines and reach a strong, consensus decision with the clock ticking.
I think there's a very small chance the Bengals would take a quarterback at No. 24 if the perceived top of this class drops, but the Bengals are a team with a secure coach and few pressing needs, the kind of team that could make such a move. I think there's more than a small chance that if Manziel is there at No. 16 -- or even, say, No. 14 -- that Jerry Jones takes a poll among those in the Cowboys draft room, asks everyone for a strong reason why he shouldn't go after Manziel then plays the "I'm the boss" card and takes him anyway.
I don't know who the Browns like or don't like among these quarterbacks. I don't which public smokescreen to believe or from where any of them might actually have originated after months of silence. I just know that given all this time and the timing of all that's happened, the Browns need to get the guy they wanted and not a guy they took based on what another team or situation dictated.
With picks 26 and 35 and two third-rounders in tow, there's no reason to miss Quarterback Plan A.
No reason at all -- and that's even if they long ago decided another guy or another plan was a better fit at No. 4.
Because two pennies is currently all I can afford and I no longer have upstairs access in Berea, I'm not officially offering a declaration or even a suggestion regarding which quarterback is the right one. I'd have to get up, stretch out (makes Heisman pose) and maybe look to the heavens (makes double money sign) for confirmation before I did that, and there's a chance I might not be right. I suppose it's happened before.
As we all know all too well, there's a chance the Browns may not be right with the quarterback they eventually take.
I would just hate to see Farmer and Pettine go down with Plan B or C.
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